Domestic workers

The result of the ILO photographic competition to promote decent work for domestic workers.
© ILO/Mukhopadhyay S. 
There are more than 53 million domestic workers worldwide, of whom more than 21 million are in Asia and the Pacific, and this number is increasing steadily in both developed and developing economies.

Domestic workers – more than 80 per cent of whom are women – make a valuable contribution to the economic development and social well-being of the countries where they work, freeing up other (often more skilled) workers – mainly women- to contribute to the workforce, taking on care work that would otherwise have fallen on family members – mainly women- communities or the state.

However the nature of their work means domestic workers are among the most vulnerable groups of workers. Typically, they work for private households behind closed doors, often without clear terms of employment, and excluded from the protection of labour legislation. Many are migrants, which makes them additionally vulnerable to exploitative or abusive working conditions.

The issues affecting domestic work include low wages, excessively long hours, no guaranteed weekly day of rest, restrictions on freedom of movement and isolation, and at times, physical, mental and sexual abuse.